Savory Snacks

I made the mistake of asking my father what he might want for a fathers day treat. I was imagining all sorts of decadent chocolate concoctions, perhaps with gooey peanut butter or crispy bits of toffee. But to my surprise, when I asked, he told me he was trying to lay off of chocolate for a while. I was lost. I had no idea what to make. Somehow all the other flavorings you might add to sweets - berries and citrus, spice, coconut . . . they all seemed somehow feminine, and so inappropriate for fathers day. I decided I had to steer clear of sweets altogether.

I landed on Sesame Crackers and Mixed Nuts with Capers and Lemon. Both are delicious despite being very simple to put together, and both should last atleast a week, kept in an airtight container, making them a perfect choice for care packages, or just yummy make ahead party snacks.

I was expecting a cracker recipe to be loaded with butter. But these seem to get most of their fat from the sesame seeds themselves. Which gives them a nice rounded buttery flavor and a lovely golden brown crispness. To be honest, they're not overwhelmingly sesame-y. If I were naming them, I'm not sure I'd emphasize the sesame as the combination of thyme and pepper dominates their flavor.

Sesame Crackers
Originally Sesame Rounds, Martha Stewart, Holiday 2007

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
pinch cayene pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 tbsp sesame seeds, unhulled
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg white

Heat oven to 350.

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, peppers, zest, thyme, and 2 tbsp sesame seeds. Pulse, then add butter and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Add 1/4 cup cold water and process until dough comes together.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8". Cut into desired shapes. I did rectagles, but the orignial recipe calls for 2 1/2" circles. Transfer pieces to an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with egg white and sprinkle on remaining sesame seeds and coarse salt. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

With crispy fried capers that melt on your tongue and a delicate dusting of lemon zest and pepper, these are fairly addictive.

Peppered Mixed Nuts with Lemon and Capers
Adapted from Martha Stewart, Holiday 2007
Makes about 4.5 cups

1 1/2 cups drained capers
3 cups assorted mixed nuts, unsalted
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp lemon zest
canola oil for frying, enough to cover the pan by 1"

Preheat the oven to 300.

Drain capers on a paper towel for about an hour, or until dry. Heat oil in a stockpot until it registers 350 on a deep fry thermometer. Add 1/4 of the capers and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Continue to fry in batches and drain on a paper towel.

Combine 2 tbsp cooking oil (from capers) with nuts, lemon juice, and pepper on a lined baking sheet. Toast in oven for 25 minutes, let cool. Sprinkle with lemon zest and combine with capers. Store in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks.

And despite the lack of chocolate gooeyness, my dad loved them both.

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